Virginia/Tennessee Week 16

Wow, what a week, thanks largely to local expertise!  

Driving north from Florida, my two primary targets were West Virginia white and falcate orangetip, with some concern that these early flyers might be finished, and expecting little else in mid-April.  Fortunately local butterfly guides had other ideas.

On Sat. the 18th Mike Smith led a group of eight into the Virginia Appalachia on a Grizzled skipper expedition.  This is an isolated, declining population considered by some to be a distinct species.  With near-perfect conditions (sunny, no wind, near 80 F) we had a record-setting day, with 10+ grizzleds, 3 elfin species, and lots of duskywings to sort out.  Oh, and falcate orangetips were common.

Two days later Tommie Rogers, a Chattanooga friend with considerable local knowledge, helped me to my 2nd target, West Virgina white, and the stunning yucca giant-skipper (photo below).

The following two days Jeff Basham, butterfly guide extraordinaire, led Tommie and I on a whirlwind tour of the Cherokee National Forest for several difficult species, including mottled duskywing and cobweb skipper.  I first recognized Jeff’s talents at the 2014 NABA convention and hoped to hook up with him during my big year.

Finally, thanks to several of you who confidently IDed the two skippers I posted last week as variations on the female Whirlabout theme.

New Species:  West Virginia White Pieris virginiensis, Falcate Orangetip Anthocharis midea, Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice, Harvester Feniseca tarquinius, Henry's Elfin Callophrys henrici, Eastern Pine Elfin Callophrys niphon, White M Hairstreak Parrhasius m-album, Eastern Tailed-Blue Cupido comyntas, Spring Azure Celastrina ladon, Eastern Comma Polygonia comma, Goatweed Leafwing Anaea andria, Golden Banded-Skipper Autochton cellus, Dreamy Duskywing Erynnis icelus, Mottled Duskywing Erynnis martialis, Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae, Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus centaureae, Cobweb Skipper Hesperia metea, Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon, Pepper and Salt Skipper Amblyscirtes hegon, Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes aesculapius, Common Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes vialis, Yucca Giant-Skipper Megathymus yuccae 

New Species:  22     Total trip species:  209    Species Photographed:  202

Erynnis martialis

Mottled duskywing, Cherokee National Forest, Chattanooga, TN

Megathymus yuccae 

Yucca giant-skipper laying egg (see bottom of yucca), nature trails, Tyner, TN

Pyrgus centaureae

Grizzled skipper, Appalachian race (P. c. wyandot), Covington, VA

© Chris Tenney 2014